My 8-month-old is a creature of habit. She knows her routine well and gets pretty ticked off when something interferes with it. Most of the time I’m extremely grateful that she takes to her routine so well. Her falling asleep between 7:30 and 8 every night means Mama gets a couple hours to unwind with a glass of wine in the evenings.
There are times though when her routine gets thrown off.
For example, yesterday we made the 2 hour drive south to my in-law’s house. My husband is helping with some things around their house and Memaw and Pop Pop (it’s a southern thing) get a chance to visit with the grandkids.
The day was great. She was in a great mood after her long nap on the drive. She loves exploring their house and terrorizing their fat old cat, Cuddles.
Once 6:30 rolled around though her biological clock chimed that it was bath time and Mommy was slacking. We hadn’t brought her tub along and my in-laws only have showers so I striped us down and in we went.
Showering definitely isn’t Adalynn’s cup of tea. She doesn’t have the freedom to move around, she can’t play with her bath toys and the water seems to always be splashing her in the face. I think we were in there for a total of 5 minutes, if that. She was yawning and rubbing her eyes while I dressed her though so I prayed it’d been enough to get the bedtime routine in the works.
Commence the next step. I made her a bottle and settled her in her swing. Complete with her little blanket that she likes to hold while she falls asleep. I turned off the light, closed the door most of the way and crept to the living room.
I’m pretty sure I felt her smirk from a room away.
She drank the bottle in record time and started whining. I made her another bottle (the change in routine upset her eating schedule too), gave it to her and snuck out once she settled.
Less than five minutes later she roared. She skipped the whimper and the whine and went straight into full-blown screeching. Off I went.
I tried to lull her to sleep by soft speaking and singing a couple of songs. Nope. Not tonight Mama.
So I scooped her out and decided to see if a diaper change would help. Low and behold, I only had two diapers left.
With the diaper change complete I sought out my husband and informed him I needed to make a run to the store, and since Adalynn wasn’t going to sleep anytime soon I may as well go now. We all loaded up, older sister in tow, and headed off to the local small town Walmart.
We weren’t driving for two minutes before Adalynn fell asleep. You’d think that would make me happy, right? Wrong. So very, very wrong.
My daughter, like a lot of babies, has the uncanny ability to take a nap for 5 minutes and be rejuvenated for hours to come. I just knew that that was going to be the case. I knew then that I had a long night ahead.
A few minutes later when we pulled up to the store my husband pulled Adalynn out, carseat and all. I warned against it. She’s an independent little thing and would much rather sit in the cart like a big girl than be pushed around in her carseat. Plus, she always wakes up when we get her out of the car. I saw a difficult shopping trip in our very near future.
She slept the entire time!
Absolutely unheard of. The bright flourescent lights, people, voices and the bumpy cart didn’t budge her one bit. She was out.
After leaving and loading her back into the car without her waking I decided that maybe a little optimism on my part wouldn’t be so bad.
She was obviously exhausted. With all the excitement and change of routine she’d missed two naps during the day so maybe, just maybe, we’d be allowed a decent night’s sleep. My husband carried her in the house, carseat and all, and unloaded her in the bedroom.
She usually falls asleep in her swing and wakes up after about an hour wanting to get in bed. I expected this to be no different so we opted for leaving her in the carseat until she woke.
Sure enough, a little less than an hour later I heard her stir. I unfastened her, pulled her out and cuddled her close. She was obviously ready to go back to sleep. I laid her down and sang to her and she was fast asleep again within minutes.
Score! The night was definitely on the right track.
Around ten my husband I made our way to bed. I scooted her close to the wall and crawled in between them. I had bottles lined up and diapers on hand (she still wakes up at least twice a night, more lately because she’s teething). It was bedtime.
At home we have a king sized bed, which we’re all used to, so sleeping on a full-sized fouton can be a little challenging. Especially with a baby who is used to taking up half the bed and tossing and turning all night.
She woke up at 11:30. Not a big deal. That’s pretty standard for our routine at home too. I changed her and fed her and tried to settle back down.
She said no.
I rocked, I sang, I bargained, I pled,.. all for naught. She was awake until 12:30.
Again, at home this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but the walls at my in-law’s are paper thin and with my father-in-law asleep in the room next door I was also under pressure to keep her quiet.
How do you keep a fussy, over-tired 8 month old quiet, you ask? It’s really quiet simple. You don’t.
After an hour of trying to teach her what an inside voice is she finally dozed off. I happily wiggled my way back down between the two of them and closed my eyes.
Now, I’m not sure when you’ll be reading this so I also want to point out that last night (or rather early this morning) the time changed.
My alarm clock, Adalynn, stirred again at 4:30 according to the clock on the wall. I started up the routine. Diaper change, bottle, cuddles. This was met with her rolling onto all fours, grinning at me and taking off crawling.
She was up.
I resorted to desperate measures. I stuck her cute little butt in her swing, opened the YouTube app on my phone (which is when I noticed it was actually 3:30 a.m.), found an episode of Super Why (her absolute favorite) and strategicly placed the phone on a chair where she could see it. With a smile on her face I gave her a kiss and crawled back into bed. Exhausted.
It was about the time I got comfortable that the wailing started.
I jumped out of bed and rushed over, shushing her quietly as I went. I was positive she had woken everyone in the house in a matter of seconds.
We started the process again. Singing, playing, talking, doing any and everything I could to get that energy out and get her calm again.
An hour later her dad finally heard all the commotion.
He rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes and said he was going to drive her around until she fell asleep and then nap with her in the car. He said that was the only way I’d get any sleep.
I wanted to kiss him, and if I hadn’t been so tired I would’ve.
I helped get her into her carseat, thanked him and kissed them goodbye.
Then I crawled into that full-sized fouton, spread out and fell asleep the second my head hit the pillow.
It was a few hours later that my husband woke me. Not only had he slept with her in the car, but when she woke up he put her in the stroller and walked her around a nearby lake watching the sunrise.
While the three or four hours of uninterrupted sleep I was able to get was amazing, I was still exhausted when he did finally wake me. I laid in bed for five or ten minutes trying to keep my eyes from crossing and repeating my internal mantra that I had to get up.
To you this may not seem that bad. What’s one sleepless night in the grand scheme of things? Except I’d been up since 5:30 the day before. She’d woken countless times the night before needing food, cuddles, rocking and songs.
I was tired before the exhausting night even began.
So when you see a woman at the park, or grocery store, or doctor’s office with spit up on her shirt, hair that hasn’t been washed or brushed, and a faraway look in her eyes as she remembers the long-ago days when she got a full nights sleep, give her a high five and tell her she’s doing an amazing job. Because she is, and she needs to hear it.